NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Delanie Walker's stats weren't eye-popping when he arrived in the NFL back in 2006. In fact, he flew under the radar during his early years in the league while with the 49ers.
TitansOnline.com looks back at TE Delanie Walker's 2015 season. (AP Photos)
A big part of the reason: Vernon Davis. While Walker was trying to make a name for himself as a sixth round draft pick, Davis was an early star playing the same position. The sixth overall pick of the 2006 draft, Davis caught 13 touchdowns during a Pro Bowl season in 2009.
But Davis, who just won a Super Bowl ring with the Denver Broncos, said he knew Walker could play.
"Delanie always had it in him. He had it in him when he arrived in San Francisco,'' Davis said last week, leading up to Super Bowl 50. "He just needed the opportunity. Just like anybody and everybody, you can't do it if you're not getting the opportunity and he didn't get a lot of chances early in his career.
"Sure, he grew as a player. Delanie gained a little weight, and he learned to block, and he became a physical player. And now you see what he is today. I am really proud of him and what he's been able to accomplish. But he worked hard for it."
Walker, who played in his first Pro Bowl last month, led the Titans and all NFL tight ends with a career-high 94 receptions in 2015. He had 1,088 receiving yards, with six touchdowns. Walker set franchise records for tight ends in catches and receiving yards in 2015.
Walker caught just 33 passes in his first three NFL seasons, and never had more than 350 receiving yards in any season while in San Francisco, where he spent seven seasons. Walker quickly emerged with the Titans, however.
After signing with the team in 2013, Walker has caught at least 60 passes in three straight seasons. He's led the team in receiving yards two years in a row.
Davis, who has 461 catches for 5,841 yards and 55 touchdowns in his 10-year playing career, said he's thrilled for his buddy. Davis joined the Broncos during the 2015 season after playing 9 ½ years with the 49ers.
"Delanie and I were best friends when he was in San Francisco, and we've stayed in touch,'' Davis said of Walker. "We had a lot of great moments together on and off the field. I am extremely happy and excited for him. I'm glad to see what he's been able to do and help the Titans in his journey.
"I am proud of Delanie, and I know he's still going strong. The guy is not going to quit."
Titans TE Delanie Walker and DL Jurrell Casey compete at the 2016 Pro Bowl. (Photos: AP, NFL, Dwight Spradlin)